Erin Coull

A poem at the stump of the paw paw tree

I sat by the stump
of the paw paw tree today-
and I wondered why you wrote.
I wondered where you found your ink-
found muses to whisper
in your ear?

So I opened up a shrivelled seedpod,
discarded by the roots.
I took it home and planted it

And now I’m waiting
As it grows;

Because I would script the wattlebird’s songs,
ballads that make the kookaburra laugh-

I would compose the fantail’s dances,
gnat-snatching, pirouetting;

You- blackwood and wattle trees-
I would write recipes for your pollen,

and you, green rosella- I would dip my brush into a rainbow
To colour in your wings;

My pen would sew leaf to branch,
and sketch roots down into this earth.

I would open my skull to catch the sunlight
And pour it back out through a Biro-

I would tear down the clouds
To use as my canvas,

And I would bleed out the trees
To refill my inkwell.

I would write

              and write

                             and write

                                           and write- if only I had a reason why.

               And so I’m waiting for my seed to grow-
               to grow into a tree
               from which
               I can fashion
               my own pen.

Erin Coull's poem 'A poem at the stump of the paw paw tree' won First Prize in the 2022 Andrew Hardy Youth Poetry Prize (16 years and under section).